The most familiar method of fishing is very simple. Get a pole, some line, a hook and some bait and you are good to go. Granted, there are some variations on this, but, in all reality, it is a simple. I am not sure Jesus’s analogy in the Gospel works with our type of fishing. This is not what Jesus had in mind because he wasn’t familiar with our style of fishing.
He would have been familiar with throwing out a net and dragging it back with the catch. The apostles were given the mandate to throw out the net of God’s love and grace. We are given the same mandate. By throwing out the net of the Kingdom, you and I fulfill the fundamental responsibility of the Christian life: to bring others to Christ.
So, how? By first getting caught ourselves. There is no way for us to bring people to Christ, unless we first are caught up in His love and grace. As important as it is to go through the ritual of Baptism, it is not enough. To be caught in Christ’s web: is to know peace in our life, the grace to endure anything that life throws at us, the fortitude to stand firm in our faith even when it means standing against the tide of a society that puts selfishness first and God last. Then and only then, are we able to go fishing for Christ.
We are called to do this in our own ways depending on where we are in our lives. Student, spouse, single, teacher, lawyer, contractor, stay at home mom, nurse, doctor, priest, deacon, etc. No matter our state in life, we have to be caught up in the net of God’s love and grace and then throw the net ourselves and catch others.
Jesus calls some of us to lead the community in this fishing expedition. As a priest, my role is to lead you in being a fisher of men and women. I am not always sure the shortage of priests is a bad thing. II challenges the community of faith to own your call to be caught by Christ and to be fishers of men and women. It your call and your right by baptism. It is from the baptized that the priest is called. Just like anyone else, the priest must be caught into the net of Christ’s love and grace and be committed to him and to him alone. The priest must model his life on the example of the crucified Christ who gave everything and washed the feet of others. Then, and only then, can he be a fisher of men and women. A priest is a worker in the Kingdom, not the boss. Only God is the Boss. The priest is the steward of the Mysteries, the Sacraments, not for his own gain, but for the good of the community of faith. He presides at the Eucharist to bring Christ to the community so that they bring Christ to others. He empowers people to be fishers of men and women by the grace that they receive in the Sacraments.
My brothers and sisters, let yourself be caught by Christ right now and every day. Then, be a fisher of men and women for Christ. Invite someone to give their live to Christ as you have. Invite someone to minister in His name. Go, be caught by Christ and throw out the net for him.